The Upanishads — glimpses from The Vedas and The Upanishads1
“In the finite there is no happiness.
The Infinite alone is happiness.”"
Anything that is finite cannot embody happiness, not to speak of lasting delight. The finite embodies pleasure, which is not true happiness. The Infinite embodies true and divine happiness in infinite measure and, at the same time, it reveals and offers to the world at large its own Truth, its own Wealth.
The Infinite expresses itself in infinite forms and infinite shapes here in the world of multiplicity and, again, this Infinite enjoys itself in a divine and supreme manner in the highest Transcendental Plane of its own consciousness. The Infinite here in the world of multiplicity expresses itself in three major forms. Creation is the first aspect of the Infinite. The second aspect is preservation. The third aspect is disillusion and destruction. These terms: creation, preservation and destruction are philosophical and religious terms. From the spiritual point of view, creation existed, does exist and is being preserved. When we use the term destruction, we have to be very careful. There is no such thing as destruction in the Supreme’s inner Vision — it is nothing but transformation. When we lose our desires, we feel that they have been destroyed. But they have not been destroyed — they have only been transformed into a larger vision, which is aspiration. We started our journey with desire, but when we launched into the spiritual path desire gave way to aspiration. The unlit consciousness which we see in the form of desire can be transformed and will be transformed by the aspiration within us. What, with our limited knowledge and vision, we call destruction, from the spiritual point of view is the transformation of our unlit, impure, obscure nature.
Ekamevadvitiyam. “Only the One, without a second.” From this One we came into existence and at the end of our journey’s close we have to return to the Absolute One. This is the soul’s journey. If we take it as an outer journey, then we are mistaken. In our outer journey we have a starting point and a final destination. It may take a few years or many years for us to reach our destined goal, but the starting point is at one place and the destination is somewhere else. But the inner journey is not a journey as such, with the same origin here and the goal elsewhere. In our inner journey we go deep within and discover our own Reality, our own forgotten self.
How do we discover our forgotten Self? We do it through meditation. There are various types of meditation: simple meditation, which everybody knows; deep meditation which the spiritual seeker knows; and higher or highest meditation, which is the meditation of the soul, in the soul, with the soul, for the entire being. Now, when an ordinary seeker meditates, he meditates in the mind. If he is a little advanced, he meditates in the heart. If he is far advanced in the spiritual life, he can meditate in the soul and with the help of the soul for the manifestation of Divinity in humanity. The spiritual Masters meditate in the physical, in the mind, in the heart, and in the souls of their disciples. These Masters also meditate all at once on the Infinite, Eternal and the Immortal. These are not vague terms to the real spiritual Masters. They are dynamic realities right in front of them, for in their inner consciousness real spiritual Masters swim in the sea of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. They can easily concentrate, meditate and contemplate on these three divine Realities which represent the Absolute.
The Upanishads have come into existence from four Vedas: The Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda. Each Veda has something unique to offer to mankind. The first and most famous Veda is the Rig Veda. It starts with a Cosmic God, Agni, the Fire God. Fire means aspiration. Aspiration and the message of the Vedas are inseparable. This fire is the fire of inner awakening and inner mounting flame. It has no smoke in it. This fire does not burn anything; it only illumines and elevates our consciousness. The Fire God is the only Cosmic God who is a Brahmin. Now Agni, fire, expresses itself in seven specific forms and it has seven significant inner names: Kali, the black; Karali, the terrible; Manojava, thought-swift; Sulohita, blood-red; Sudhumravarna, smoke-hued; Sphulingi, scattering sparks; Vishvaruchi, the all-beautiful.
Kali, the black, is not actually black. Kali is the divine force or fire within us which fights against undivine hostile forces. The Mother Kali fights against demons in the battlefield of life. In the vital plane we see her as a dark, tenebrous Goddess, but in the highest plane of consciousness she is golden. We see her terrible form when she fights against hostile forces, but she is the Mother of Compassion. We misunderstand her dynamic qualities — we take them as aggressive qualities. Mother Kali has compassion in boundless measure, but at the same time, she will not tolerate any sloth, imperfection, ignorance, or lethargy in the seeker. Finally, Mother Kali is beauty unparalleled. This beauty is not physical beauty. This beauty is inner beauty, which elevates human consciousness to the highest plane of delight.
The contributions of the Sama Veda. This particular Veda offers us God’s music, the soul’s music. In addition, it offers India’s religion, India’s philosophy and India’s politics. All these striking achievements of India have come from the Sama Veda. Music is of paramount importance in the Sama Veda. It is not at all like modern music; it is the real soul-stirring music. The greatest sage of the past, Yagnavalka, said, “The abode of music is heaven.” It is the Sama Veda which holds this heavenly music — the soul-stirring, life-energising music. Most of you have read the Bhagavad Gita, the Song Celestial of Lord Krishna. There Lord Krishna says, “I am the Sama Veda.” He does not say that he is the Rig Veda or the Yajur Veda or the Atharva Veda. No, he says that he is the Sama Veda. Why? Because in the Sama Veda, Krishna found the soul’s music which is his very own. A great Indian philosopher-saint, Patanjali, begins his philosophy with the Sama Veda precisely because of its inner music. If music is taken away from God’s Creation, then it will be an empty Creation. God the Creator is the Supreme Musician and His Creation is His only delight. It is in His music that God feels delight and it is through music He offers Himself to His aspiring and unaspiring children.
From the Sama Veda we get the most significant Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad. This Upanishad is equal to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. This Upanishad is by far the largest in size and, according to many, it is not only the largest, but also the best. Again, there are those who are of the opinion that the Isha Upanishad, which is tiny, very tiny, is the best — not because of its size, but because of its depth. Some will say the Swetashvatara or Katha or Kena Upanishad is the best. Each one has to express his sincere feeling about the essence of a particular Upanishad. The Chandogya Upanishad, which derives from the Sama Veda, says something most significant to the sincere seekers. One question which spiritual teachers are asked very often is, “Why do we need a teacher? Can we not realise God by ourselves?” In the Chandogya Upanishad there is a specific way of convincing the doubters and the unaspiring human beings who argue for the sake of argument.
The Chandogya Upanishad says: Think of yourself as a traveler. You have lost your way and a robber attacks you. He takes away all your wealth and binds your eyes. Then he takes you to a faraway place and leaves you there. You had vision and you were able to move around, but now your fate is deplorable. You cannot see, you cannot walk, you are crying like a child — helpless, but there is no rescue. Now suppose someone comes and unties your eyes and goes away. You will be able to see the paths all around you, but you will not know which one is the right one for you and even if you did, you would not be able to walk on it because your legs and arms are still bound. This is the condition of the seeker who wants to realise God by himself. But suppose someone comes, unties you completely and shows you which path will take you home. This person has really done you a favour. If you have faith in him and confidence in your self, then you will reach your destination swiftly and surely. If you have faith in him, but do not have confidence in your own capacity to reach the Goal, then the same Teacher who freed you from blindness and showed you the path will go with you, inside you, to inspire you. He will act as your own aspiration to lead you toward your destined Goal. If you get this kind of help from a spiritual Master, then your life can be of significance, your life can bear fruit and you can run the fastest toward the Goal. Otherwise, you will walk today on this path, tomorrow on that path and the following day on some other path. You may have the capacity to walk, but you will walk on the wrong path and you will come back again to your starting point, frustrated and disappointed. Along with capacity, if you know the right path and have a true Master to help you, who can prevent you from reaching your destined Goal? Once you reach your destined Goal, you reach God’s Height and start manifesting God’s Light here on earth. You are fulfilled — fulfilled multiplicity in Unity’s embrace.
AUM 818. Fairleigh Dickenson Univ., Teaneck, N.J., 30 Nov. 1971↩